Throughout my academic career, I’ve realized that most of the actual “learning” I do involves experience outside of the classroom. Also, much of my professional development has occurred outside of the office. It’s when I’m traveling abroad that I have flourished personally, academically, and professionally. Travelling pushes you outside of your comfort zones. You’re forced to interact with new and different people. And, international adventures makes you see a new way of living. All of these experiences and lessons can translate to your career, making travel invaluable to your professional development. Here’s why.
1. International exploration provides you with the opportunity to gain new inspiration.
Whether you work in the arts, business, science, technology, or any other field, you’re going to have the chance to see how other cultures execute business or products in your field. You’ll go home with new ideas, solutions, and new ways of approaching previous problems.
2. Traveling also gives you time to rest and refresh.
Stepping away from your office and daily routine at home will give your brain some time to decompress. Even if your adventures abroad involve physical activity, your mind is still able to relax and reset itself. The spirit and mind will be reinvigorated and this will be evident in the work you produce when you return.
3. When you travel long distances, you’re prompted to see the bigger picture.
You’re plucked from your world and taken to another. It makes you see that your problems are relatively small and insignificant, which lifts away stress and pressure. When you’re hundreds or thousands of miles away from your home and you realize that your problems or stressors don’t matter where you are, it makes you consider why you ever stressed about them in the first place. When I’ve returned from traveling, I’m always reminded of my priorities. This helps me to let go of smaller tribulations and devote myself to what really matters. And now that I’ve let go of what doesn’t matter, I’m able to focus and create my best work.
4. The exposure to new cultures through traveling teaches you new values and perspectives.
For example, the British taught me the value of warmth by showing me a lifestyle where greeting others with friendly smiles and engaging strangers in conversation is the norm. Rather than pulling out my phone while I was in a taxi, or listening to music on the metro, I was encouraged to talk to the people around me. This exposed me to a new way of life that emphasizes camaraderie. Since returning home, I have implemented this new, cordial charisma and it’s helped me grow closer to my peers and coworkers. Plus, networking now feels natural to me.
5. Even if you don’t visit a country that emphasizes conversation, you’ll still have plenty of opportunities to meet new people.
When you’re staying somewhere distant and don’t know anyone near by, except for maybe the people you’re traveling with, you’re forced to connect with new people. Remember how friendly everyone was when you started summer camp, or when you moved into your freshman dorm? No one knew anyone, no one had any friends, so everyone had to be friendly. Traveling provides the same experience. You’ll be able to connect with the person sitting next to you on the train, or the couple at the table next to you at dinner. The networking opportunities are endless.
Some people hesitate to travel because of financial restrictions, busy schedules, or pressures at work. But, when there are many professional benefits that come along with an adventure, there’s no need to feel guilty. Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.
Photo: Better than Stock